It’s been ten years since Flixist started. Ten bleeding years. A lot has changed since then. We’ve lost writers, gained writers, reformatted a half-a-dozen times, been bought, been dead, been alive. Emotions have happened. Movies have come out. Marvel has risen. Twitter is a big thing. The entire film industry shut down. Things have happened, folks. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the Flixist 15. Hell, you can see our OG logo sitting up there with its big ol’ green X. That has stayed the same.
When the site first launched Tom Froznack and myself put together 15 films you had to watch to get where we were coming from with this thing. It gave new readers a grounding for what we were talking about and the kind of movies we enjoyed and thought were important. It’s been an incredible ride since then, with opportunities and experiences I never could have dreamed of and a host of writers who I am happy to call friends and many who have gone on to even bigger and better things.
But, like I said, a lot has happened since then. We’re not the same site and the film world isn’t the same film world. So on this (slightly belated) tenth anniversary of Flixist, the Flixist 15 is getting a refresh. After careful discussion and a lot of hard staring at each other through computer chats, the staff has chosen 15 movies that define what we’re all about. To explain what this list is I’m just going to steal my words from ten years ago:
Below are the Flixist 15. These are the 15 films you need to see in order to really get Flixist. Don’t be misled. This isn’t a list of the greatest films ever made (though, many might be on that). This is a list of films, picked by the staff, that we think exemplify what Flixist is all about. These are movies that could easily pop up in an everyday conversation on Flixist, and the awesome thing is they’re all great too.
We didn’t try to avoid clichés, we didn’t try to choose movies no one has ever seen in order to look cool, and we didn’t attempt to choose classics so we could seem smarter. We simply sat down and chose the movies we love and the movies we think are important to have seen in order to love movies.
Gravity (2013, Alfonso Cuaron)
We don’t give tens here at Flixist. It’s not a stingy thing, it’s just that we value our scoring system and scoring a ten is very, very hard. In ten years we’ve given three. Two of them went to director Alfonso Cuaron and one of those was for Gravity. This is a movie that must be experienced on the big screen. A film that revels in filmmaking and passion. A movie that is just as much about its story as it is about what happens when you let great directors do daring things. As such it is a movie that helps define what we believe cinema can be. – Matthew Razak
Wheels on Meals (1984, Sammo Hung)
I’ll save a lot of explanation for my inevitable “Kung Fu Corner” column, but Wheels on Meals perfectly encapsulates the absurdity that is Flixist. Much like how the film’s plot mixes sometimes heavy moments with ridiculous comedy, all of us at Flixist have a wide range of tastes that range from introspective dramas to gross-out horror films. We also all enjoy Kung Fu, to some extent, and this one has the lightest tone of any of the films I nominated. – Peter Glagowski
Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)
Anime, as an industry, has grown tremendously in the decade since Flixist first began, but one thing remains constant; you can’t beat Ghibli. To many Americans and non-anime fans, Studio Ghibli serves as the face of the entire industry and while it may be tough to figure out which of their films is the best, Spirited Away contains an artistic beauty that the staff at Flixist just gravitate towards. There’s a real atmosphere unique to the film, one that firmly states that animation, regardless of nationality, can be regarded as a piece of art worth discussion and praise. – Jesse Lab
Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes)
As long as I’m involved with Flixist, Bond is going to be a staple of the site. The Bond movies are action cinema and action cinema is a genre we love at Flixist. Bond is the litmus test of where action is at. The franchise has evolved over time, reflecting the trends of cinema as it has and so our Bond selection has evolved too. Last time we chose Goldfinger but we’ve updated the choice this time around to Skyfall. It wasn’t an easy choice, but Skyfall better represents the modern movies we write about while still containing all of the Bondness that Goldfinger had. It is a reminder that sometimes the old ways, with a bit of new, are the best. – Matthew Razak
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones)
Given that this is one of the most popular absurdist comedies in existence, it’s probably pretty clear why Flixist enjoys it so much. You have irreverent humor, political dissection, and just general zaniness that all combine to form a subversive and hilarious whole. While we could have picked any number of Monty Python films, Holy Grail really is the cream of the crop and something that any fan of British humor, or just comedies in general, needs to watch. – Peter Glagowski
Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
By this point hearing about how Citizen Kane is the “perfect movie” has been greatly diminished, but damn is it still a masterpiece in its own right. Any film critic worth their salt can appreciate and understand the importance of Orson Welles’ film and its impact on expanding public perception of just what films are capable of. With the film slowly approaching its 80th birthday, it’s hard to imagine what the industry would be like without Citizen Kane. Sure, we’re all a bunch of weirdos and freaks here, but we’re still critics that can acknowledge important films when we see them, and few are as important as Citizen Kane. – Jesse Lab
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964, Jacques Demy)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a vividly shot, gorgeously colourful homage to the swinging 60s. Directed by Jacques Demy (one-half of the powerhouse duo, Demy and Varda), it combined the best elements of old operatic and musical traditions with the tone of the French New Wave, which is a combination we can’t help but love from a genre (the musical) that we think gets looked over far too often. Umbrellas tells the story of a young couple, Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve), a beautiful 17-year-old living and working with her mother (Anne Vernon) in an umbrella shop, and Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a 20-year-old mechanic. They share a brief but intense love affair before Guy is conscripted to join the army for the war in Algeria for two years. It’s a classic I return to every Christmas and one which never fails to entice with its bittersweet charm. – Sian Francis-Cox
Evil Dead II (1987, Sam Raimi)
Evil Dead 2 holds a special place in Flixist’s heart. It stands as our Editor-in-Chief’s favorite film and its humor could not be more akin to the site’s. I personally binged the entire Evil Dead series in a weekend and where Evil Dead and Army of Darkness have their value, Evil Dead 2 is the perfect mash-up of fun, camp, horror, and gore. It is a little bit of everything that Flixist likes and it works perfectly together. If we had to sum the masterwork of Sam Raimi in one word? Groovy. – John Morey
Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
I mean, it has “strange” in the title—what more justification need there be to include it on the list! Indeed, Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 comedy (“The hotline suspense comedy”) is a film that needs little justification in singing its praises. For one, you have an absolute knock-out cast, capped by the brilliant triple-act of Peter Sellers—a great at his greatest. It’s also something of a historical timebomb, the Cuban Missile Crisis having just simmered less than two years before Strangelove hits screens. Kubrick was toeing the line, staring down the hottest of hot topics. Pushing buttons, if you will. Any movie-lover is bound to find something of worth in Kubrick’s filmography, and for us at Flixist the good Doctor is just the ticket. – Sam van der Meer
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)
Movies are great, sure, but a lot of movies are terrible. It’s always fun to roll out to the theater for the latest, dumbest popcorn movies of the summer, but, I mean, studios put out some atrocious stuff to reel in the dough; sequels no one needed, reboots that need not have rebooted. It was both of those boxes that were ticked when Mad Max: Fury Road started to reach our radars. Was I skeptical? Maybe. But then George Miller, in his effortless mastery, premiered Fury Road at Cannes, and it was as if he said: “This is how you revive an oldie.” Fury Road is the Mad Max film of our dreams, absolutely breath-stopping in its grandeur and miles-per-minute excitement. It’s a visual overload while still being incredibly intelligent in its storytelling. This is a popcorn movie… with nutritional value. Whatever that means! As a representative of all that summer at the movies can be, Mad Max: Fury Road makes our list here at Flixist as one for the ages. – Sam van der Meer
Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
In 1979, Ridley Scott directed one of the great sci-fi/horror movies of all time that produced one of the greatest movie taglines of all time:
“In space, no one can hear you scream”
Over four decades later and that tagline still hits. Not only was the portrayal of a space battle between a crew and murder hungry Xenomorph done extremely well, but it helped define a new era of horror that has defined the genre we love here at Flixist. The snarling, drooling alien with a mouth inside of a mouth is on the Mount Rushmore of non-human horror. It’s sleek black body hiding in the crevices of the Nostromo caused some of the most fierce jump-scares that help maintain Alien’s legacy as an all-time great and a Flixist favorite. – Nick Hershey
The Act of Killing (2012, Joshua Oppenheimer)
Our tastes at Flixist are eclectic, running the gamut from cult genre films to arthouse classics. We also love great non-fiction filmmaking, and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing is one of the most audacious and significant documentaries of the last decade. The film chronicles the Indonesian genocide of 1965-1966, and how the perpetrators of this violence rose to political power afterward. Throughout the film, we inhabit the POV of the killers, who haven’t faced repercussions for their actions. Instead, they’re viewed as heroes. One of these state-sponsored mass murderers proudly recounts his atrocities, and even gleefully recreates some of them as short films. (Notice the sense of moral/ethical distance in the title: this isn’t murder, but merely the act of killing.) When The Act of Killing is paired with its follow-up, The Look of Silence, we get a terrifying chronicle of how history is re-written by oppressors. We also get a reminder, from the mere existence of films like this, that it’s crucial to reassert truth somehow, that non-fiction isn’t just a genre classification but can be a political act. – Hubert Vigilla
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gunn)
It would be impossible to not have a Marvel film on this list. The impact of the MCU on the cinema is profound over the last ten years and not including one would basically be ignoring what modern filmdom is. By the time Guardians of the Galaxy entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the tone of the MCU was getting seriously dark. All three Iron Man films had been released, Loki nearly leveled New York, and Captain America had just fought his former best friend who he thought was dead. Enter Peter Quill. From the opening of GotG, the onslaught of classic tunes and a nostalgic walkman hinted at a lighter film. Add in a talking raccoon, a tree with a slim vocabulary, a musclehead with no sense of sarcasm, and Thanos’s vengeful daughter and this ragamuffin group flipped the identity of the MCU in one film. It’s goofy, heartfelt, and entertaining, making it a perfect fit for Flixist. – Nick Hershey
Mandy (2018, Panos Cosmatos)
For someone who claims to not be a fan of horror movies, I sure love to stan the ones that I end up loving. When Mandy‘s trailer rocketed onto the internet in the summer of 2018, it was as if the entirety of Flixist had been given the spotlight for a very brief moment. Artsy schlock is quite possibly the textbook definition of what we love here, and it shows as Mandy is one of only a handful of movies that has received a perfect 10 score here.
It quite literally has everything that makes us tick. Gorgeous cinematography, deeper drama lurking beneath a b-movie exterior, a chainsaw fight, and even Bill Duke! It’s also one of those rare instances where Nic Cage’s acting range finds a cozy home in a well written and directed film. It feels weird to put a movie that had sadomasochistic acid addicted assassins next to such artistic classics like Umbrellas of Cherbourg or Dr. Strangelove but that is what you get when you come here. -Anthony Marzano
Cats (2019, Tom Hooper)
Are you into boondoggles? Do you enjoy a trainwreck?
Consume bad flicks in awe? Do you watch them in droves?
Do you share them with friends, do they share them in kind?
Are you the cock of the walk while you’re watching alone?
When films fall on their heads, do you land on your feet?
Are you tense when you sense there’s a flop in the air?
Can you find your way blind to midnight movies
In which a cat eats cockroaches like they’re eclairs?
Because jellicles can and the Flixist staff do
The Flixist staff do and jellicles can
The Flixist staff sings jellicle chants
Flixist staff old and Flixist staff new
Jellicle song and Flixist staff dance
Flixist staff sings for Tom Hooper’s Cats
Jellicle songs for Flixist staff cats
Flixist staff songs for jellicle Cats
Jellicle songs for Flixist staff cats
Impractical Cats, rushed-VFX Cats
Terrible Cats, deplorable Cats
Scatalogical Cats, what-the-hellicle Cats
Career-ending Cats, rewatchable Cats
Ill-advisable Cats, epic-horny-ass Cats
The critical staff enjoys Tom Hooper’s Cats
Ironical Cats, anthropomorphical Cats
Taylor Swifticle Cats and Idris Elbacle Cats
Shiny-snoticle Cats, #ReleaseTheButtholeCut Cats
Unbearable Cats, hysterical Cats
Break-fourth-wallicle Cats, not-a-doggicle Cats
Aaah, jellicle Cats – Hubert Vigilla